Need some financial advice? Debt and income crisis? Pay off the house mortgage first? Check cashing? Taxes? Credit Cards? Check out what folks are asking Dave Ramsey.
A Very Generous Offer
My in-laws have very generously offered my wife and I $250,000 to help with a down payment on a home. I know the amount exceeds the IRS’s yearly gift allowance, but they want to structure it as a family loan and have already told us they don’t care if we pay it back. If we accept, we technically owe them a lot of money. If we say no, they may be offended. What do you think about this and how it might impact the relationship?
Well, it makes sense your wife would be onboard with the whole thing. It’s her dad making the offer, so of course she would be a lot more comfortable with the idea than you are.
This is a big deal, and it’s something you two should have a very serious conversation about. Get on the same page in every regard. Also, I’d recommend making sure you get everything in writing. See to it, as well, that it can be forgiven at the maximum allowable annual gift rate.
In addition, in the event of death make sure it’s included in the estate, it’s forgiven, and there will be zero call on the note. In effect, that would make it an advance on your inheritance instead of debt. Under no circumstances should they, or any other heirs, have grounds to call the note.
That’s a good question, James. And a nice gift!
I recently received my master’s degree in finance, and for the last four years I’ve had a job as a social worker. I love my job and have a decent income, but I know I could make more money and come closer to reaching my full potential in the finance industry. I’m on Baby Step 2, and I have lots of debt. On top of this, my dad lives with me and needs transplant surgery. I’ll have to take six weeks off work when he has this done, and my current job has always been very supportive of his healthcare needs. Should I wait until after the procedure to look for a job in the finance field? Will the fact that I won’t be a brand new graduate at that point make finding something difficult?
Not at all. You can seek employment in anything you want anytime you want. But I think you’re putting the cart before the horse a little bit here. It sounds like you’re assuming you won’t be able to find an employer in the finance world that will understand your situation and work with you where you dad is concerned.
If you were interviewing at my company, and we determined you were an amazing person and a perfect fit for the job, we’d take a look at things and do what we could to work things out to where we could bring you on and help you through the situation. So, in my mind, it doesn’t reflect badly on you at all to be seeking a better job now.
Now, if you found yourself in an interview where the company reeked of that hardcore, corporate, no-days-off-no-matter-what crap, well, you obviously wouldn’t take the job. Always remember that in a job interview you’re interviewing them just as much as they’re interviewing you. You have to decide if they’re a good fit for you as much as they need to see if you’re the right person for them.
Honestly? It sounds to me a little like you’re just trying to stay in your comfort zone, kiddo. I think you need to go swimming. Jump in! The water’s fine.
Taking the dread out of budgeting
I’ve been trying to get my sister and her husband on your plan, but they’re hesitant to try living on a budget. They make good money, and both of them think doing a budget every month would be too difficult and take too much time. Do you have any suggestions I could pass along that might make them realize that making a budget isn’t so hard or time consuming?
Believe me, I hear those excuses all the time. In most cases, the people who say these kinds of things don’t really understand what a budget is, or how to efficiently put one together. If you’ve followed my advice, you learned first-hand that budgeting isn’t scary once you get the hang of it. Household budgets don’t need to be about hours of tedious math and complicated formulas. Like most things in life, simple is usually best.
A good way to simplify budgeting, especially for couples, is by making it a team effort. It’s important to make sure your spouse is on board, and knows what’s up with the budget, because you’re just asking for problems when one spouse is doing all the planning and the other is doing all the spending.
Sit down together for a few minutes, once a month, and have a budget meeting where you look at your income, your outgo, and you both give every dollar a name and a job to do. It’s really that simple. Share your ideas, your hopes, and your dreams for the future, as well as the fears you have. The important thing is that you’re both in agreement and working together. That alone will make your lives, your budget, and your money easier to handle.
Also, make sure you have cut up all your credit cards and closed the accounts. No more credit cards means fewer bills to add to the budget, fewer complications, and zero worries about fees and interest rates. Stick to using a debit card and cash. After all, they’re both part of the plan!
Making a schedule for budget meetings and bill payments is a good idea, too. You can even make your budget meetings a fun time by including your favorite snacks. Set up auto drafts out of your checking account to pay bills, and buy your groceries on a set day every week or twice a month. When you know what to expect and when, it takes a lot of stress and potential pitfalls out of the budgeting picture.
There’s always some work and discipline that goes along with gaining control of your money. But a budget doesn’t need to be torture. A little planning, communication, and some basic math will go a long way—and it won’t be nearly as time consuming, or as difficult, as you think!